Expression through Art Therapy: A Valuable Component of Modern Treatment Programs
Today, treating mental health disorders such as AS and ADHD involve a myriad of strategies and methods, including innovative approaches like art therapy. Having a multitude of options enables healthcare providers and mental health providers to create comprehensive, customized treatment programs to meet every patient’s unique needs.
Art therapy serves as a valuable outlet for expression for people suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD, and even other disorders like addiction. Here are just a few of the many reasons for incorporating art therapy into a comprehensive treatment program.
Fostering Emotional Growth
Often, people with these types of disorders are behind their peers in terms of emotional growth. For instance, ADHD involves the slower development of the frontal lobe of the brain, which is involved in impulse control, time management, and executive functioning. Delayed development in any part of the brain can create an imbalance that manifests as the symptoms associated with the person’s mental health disorder.
Art therapy is one way to cultivate emotional growth by giving participants a sense of control and activating the full brain, integrating the sensory processes with cognitive and emotional processes. Over time, art therapy can train the brain to make better use of these neurological processes as an integrated system to regulate emotions.
Providing an Expression Outlet
Art therapy provides a unique way to communicate, which is an especially useful technique for children and adults with autism, particularly those who are non-verbal. Additionally, art therapy can be beneficial for aiding children or adults who have experienced trauma and find it difficult to verbalize their experiences or their feelings about those experiences. Rather than struggle with the emotional upheaval of trying to put their internal horror into words, art provides a peaceful, calming way to get those thoughts and feelings out.
Art therapy can help to reduce anxiety and resolve emotional conflicts, which alone is often a tremendous relief for anyone – whether they struggle with an underlying mental health disorder or not – having difficulty communicating something intensely emotionally charged. For people who are non-verbal, art may be the sole way they are able to communicate with their family, friends, or peers.
Forming Connections with Peers
Art therapy doesn’t have to be an isolated activity. In many cases, art therapy as a group activity can serve a greater purpose beyond the emotional development and expression of an individual. For example, children on the autism spectrum who have difficulty picking up on social cues and forging social connections may benefit from group art therapy.
Art activities can create a level playing field, which can sometimes make children struggling with mental health disorders more comfortable with their peers and provide a common ground. It creates a calming effect and can help to build confidence in children, and it even has mood-boosting effects, all of which can foster peer-to-peer interaction. Plus, working through a sequence of steps can nurture working memory and attention.
As researchers learn more about mental health disorders, the approach to treating them evolves and changes as well. Art therapy plays a valuable role in the treatment of many types of mental health disorders and disabilities ranging from Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) to Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), addiction, schizophrenia, and more. Adding art therapy to your treatment regimen could help you gain control of your symptoms, foster emotional growth, and express your inner-most thoughts and feelings in a comforting, therapeutic way.
Image via Pixabay by bodobe
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